COMMAND CASE STUDY #2
An ASAC is transferred from a field office to a multi-jurisdictional task force. The work unit consists of the ASAC, in the role of Task Force Commander, a Deputy Commander, 12 agents of the task force, two support staff, and an intelligence analyst. This task force has been in existence for five years.
The first control group meeting is held and the new ASAC receives numerous complaints from various control group members. These complaints include, but are not limited to, not ever seeing task force agents in their counties or cities, low activity in their county and cities, telephone calls from citizens to the local officials after raids or jump-outs without any knowledge by the Sheriff/Police Chief regarding what has happened, people sitting in jail for long periods of time without indictments, and people sitting in jail without first appearance hearings or custodial interviews.
The District Attorney on the control group complains about files never being brought to the DA’s office on time or being incomplete. The DA also complains about no interviews or statements in the file or poor documentation of statements in the file. Further, the DA advises that there have been complaints from Assistant District Attorneys regarding poor affidavit construction and incomplete articulation of probable cause.
Upon arrival to the work unit, the new ASAC reviews files at random and finds that controlled buys are not being recorded, documented, or monitored properly and that convicted felons are being used to make the purchases. Further, evidence is found misfiled in the evidence room and there are notations of drug evidence being destroyed absent any documentation of the same.
A review of the equipment present reveals that several bugs and several recorders are inoperable, the equipment logs are missing or incomplete, and the proper inventory cannot be completed.
The ASAC interviews the Deputy Commander regarding any further problems at the task force. The Deputy Commander advises that there are reasons for evidence being destroyed without documentation. One is that there is a custom of “jump-outs” in the high crime areas of the task force jurisdiction. When these jump-outs occur, often time’s drugs are picked up from the ground and later destroyed without any documentation. When asked about the basis for these jump-outs, the Deputy Commander states that they are based solely upon these people hanging in high crime areas.
When asked about ongoing operations, the Deputy Commander advises that a new agent has been assigned to the task force within the last two weeks and is currently working undercover in one of the counties. The Deputy Commander advises that no one knows the agent is there other than the one cover person working with him. Further, the Deputy Commander states that there is a problem in another county where there’s been an arrest of a suspect regarding a buy that is on video camera where the suspect swears that he is not the person who sold the cocaine. He swears that he has an alibi and was working at McDonald’s during the time of the buy. The Deputy Commander states that he has been in jail for several months and no one has had time to check the alibi. When asked about the most recent arrest roundup, the Deputy Commander stated the takedown occurred four weeks ago and there are six people identified out of 30 cases. Out of the six identified, two have been recently put in jail over the last week and are awaiting identification.
The ASAC walks back into a large conference room where eight of the 12 agents are gathered around the table. Of the 12 employees, only three are assigned undercover duties. The rest are in an overt capacity. The ASAC notices their dress is in blue jeans with holes in the legs, very sloppy t-shirts, long hair, and earrings. One of the more senior agents has just designed a new patch for the task force that has a skull and cross bones with a lightning bolt to the side. The hope of the agents is for this patch to be the new “tactical” patch for their raid vest.
Identify separately each issue in this case study; then answer the following questions regarding each issue.
Discuss if the issues identified are first, important, and second, were they proper behavior or not. If they are proper, articulate why. If they are not proper, articulate why they are not and then give an explanation for what could have been done differently. Elaborate on any potential minefields and pitfalls you see, what steps you will take to change or correct conduct and behavior, and what impact this scenario has on the overall culture of the work unit.